Friday, January 11, 2013

The Devil's Picturebook no. 2 : Eight of Spades

Eight of Spades: be cautious, friends might turn out to be enemies

One of the unspoken tenets of the fundamentalist Christian church I grew up in is to trust no one who does not believe as you do. This not only includes the “worldly,” unbelieving people, but also Catholics, Mormons, Methodists, Episcopalians and anyone who does not share your point of view (which, in my church, was everyone). I don't know if it was ever explicitly said to distrust the “worldly” people, but we were taught to keep ourselves separate from them. In the mid 1970’s, there was a training course at my church to teach us how to share a tract called The Four Spiritual Laws. At the end of the training week, we were to go share The Four Spiritual Laws with three different “unsaved” people, the idea being to convert them to Christianity. This was going to be a challenge for me. First, it was a heavy assignment for a 14-year-old kid who was shy, confused, and, well, only 14-years-old. On top of that, I really didn't know many heathens—I went to church all the time and was taught not to be friends with the “worldly.” 

My first target was an elderly couple across the street. I regularly mowed their lawn, and I reasoned that, since I had never heard a "thank the Lord," seen a Bible on their coffee table, and the man smoked cigars, they 
must be unbelievers. I went over and the woman of the house agreed to listen to me nervously read the pamphlet while she looked on at various charts and graphs that explained her (rather unenviable) position in relation to God’s. When I finished, she was supportive and kindly patted me on the back, avoiding the praying part at the end by asking when I could cut the grass again, as it was growing fast that summer from all the rain.  She made me feel better in spite of my presumptuousness and the awkwardness of the situation. I left feeling oddly comforted by my “worldly” neighbor. 
The next person I approached was Matt, a classmate from school. He used swear words and never talked about church, so I figured his allegiances were obvious. One day, he came over to my house after school. I was still nervous but committed to try and sell The Four Spiritual Laws with more confidence than before. As I started, Matt interrupted to say he had a joke to tell me: 
Matt: Why does the Easter Bunny hide Easter eggs? 
Don: I don't know Matt, why?
Matt: He doesn't want anyone knowing he's been fucking the chickens! 
At first I was flabbergasted, then I laughed, then I felt guilty I laughed, since I had just heard a dirty joke and here I was about to try to save him! So, I asked Matt why he told me the joke. He responded that he thought I seemed nervous and wanted to “loosen things up a bit.” After that, I went through The Four Spiritual Laws half-heartedly, skipping the prayer at the end, since, after the bunny joke, it all rang a little false. Matt left with a smile and patted me on the back. Like before, my spiritual mission had ended with another “worldly” person comforting me! After my experiences with these two “worldly” individuals, I decided not to share The Four Spiritual Laws with a third.

Eight of Spades: enemies might turn out to be friends

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